Sunday 14 May 2017

Hospital: Gasping for breath on an ultrasound scan

Gasping and rasping
“Breathe in and hold your breath.” She said the second time and she must have forgotten to say I could breathe out. As a reflex, I took a sharp intake of breath, an indication of a number of things that I need to address.
Firstly, I do need oxygen more than I need to expel carbon dioxide and it was a sign of my being unfit that I could not hold my breath for as long as might be ordinarily expected. My morning walks do not seem to be enough exercise over the last couple of weeks.
Having returned from Edinburgh late on Friday night, I had an appointment for an abdominal scan on Saturday morning, quite a fortuitous appointment that would normally have been on a weekday. After my check-up in March that had me noticing that my last liver scan also included scans of my pancreas and gallbladder, the consultant suggested a review.
Scans of the innards
Going from the major cyber-attack that affected the NHS amongst other institutions and companies on Friday in about 99 countries, I was concerned my appointment might be cancelled, but on seeing nothing of significance on the hospital website or getting any notices by SMS text, I hoped for the best and arrived on time for the appointment.
Having an ultrasound scan [NHS] rather than an X-ray [NHS], a CT scan [NHS] or an MRI scan has many advantages, the preparation is less cumbersome and the side effects are minimal apart from the possibility that the high-frequency soundwaves might heat up tissue and cause air bubbles, but it has not been considered a serious risk. Ultrasound is also quite well-suited to reviewing soft tissue, though the most common application of this is viewing the foetus in the womb.
However, in preparation for the scan, I could not eat at least 6 hours before the scan and whilst I could drink water, I was to avoid carbonated drinks, milk or fatty foods before the scan. Having the scan in the morning meant I did not have to go hungry for long. I was to wear loose clothing too.
Gels for the cells
Soon after I was registered I was called into another waiting room where a few minutes later I nurse called me into the examination room. I took off my jackets and laid on the bed pulling up my shirt and my vest, in eventually had to take off my shirt. Lying on my back, she applied a gel to my belly which was pleasantly warm, warmed by the instruments in the room, I suppose and different from the cold shock I had some two years before.
The handheld probe was then put against my skin and she began to move it around, clicking on the keyboard at intervals, possibly taking snapshots. I must say, there was a bit of pressure applied and for my somewhat weak ribcage, it felt uncomfortable but not painful. When I had to turn on my side, more gel was applied, this time, a bit cold and this was where I had to breathe in and hold my breath for probably over a minute before respite.
Done and gone
The whole activity took about 15-minutes and though I knew not to ask her medical opinion, she volunteered that there were no radical changes to my gallbladder from what was observed two years ago. I will return in just under two weeks to see my consultant for the medical opinion.
Apparently, the hospital was not affected by the ransomware attack because the moment they learnt of the attack all ingress traffic to the hospital was blocked and technically, they isolated themselves from the world.
I guess I was in the hospital for just about 30 minutes before I left to do some shopping for ethnic goods and returned home to catch up on some much-needed sleep. I had not slept that well overnight, maybe out of excitement or anxiety and I had to rested well enough for my early journey back to Edinburgh today.

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